Pay market rent for phone mast sites, CLA tells mobile operators.

29 October 2013

The CLA has warned that market rent must be paid by mobile communications operators for it to be worthwhile for landowners to host mobile phone masts on their land.

A consultation by the Law Commission has set out proposals to reform the Electronic Communication Code,a legal document which oversees the dealings between network operators and landowners. The consultation proposes a change to the basis under which landowners and occupiers would be paid for telecommunications apparatus sited on private land.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "The suggestion that payments should be based on compulsory purchase principles - rather than on a freely negotiated market value basis - is deeply concerning for CLA members."

The Law Commission suggests an alternative might be a "compensation-plus" approach, with payment of a fixed statutory percentage over and above the level of compensation. If no compensation were due, a minimum amount would be paid.

Mr Cotterell said: "If this proposal were to be adopted, rental payments for mast sites could fall from several thousand pounds a year, to the level of payment paid for a National Grid pylon, currently between £87 and £147 a year.

"The CLA is wholly opposed to this suggestion. Mobile operators are companies run for profit and as such should pay the market price. They choose sites which will be economically viable based on demand."

He added: "The current market value approach has worked for the majority of cases and has not stopped the roll-out of both mobile and landline telecommunications to the vast majority of the population. If there is no incentive to host apparatus, landowners will not want to host masts on their land."

Read the Law Commission's consultation on the Electronic Communications Code.